There will be no January commencement for students graduating Montclair State University after the fall semester this year. The removal of the winter ceremony has left these soon-to-be graduates feeling cheated out of the joyous graduation experience. They are taking things into their own hands by starting a petition to bring January commencement back.
A petition was created on Change.org on Friday, Oct. 6 to express Montclair State students’ disapproval of the university removing January commencement for this year’s graduates. The petition has been signed by not only students of the graduating class, but by parents and Montclair State alumni as well. The petition has almost 5,000 signatures as of Oct. 11.
Montclair State’s first ever January commencement was added last year, which resulted in negative responses from students who said the ceremony was very disorganized. In a letter to The Montclarion, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich said the unsuccessful trial run of winter commencement last year influenced the decision to remove the ceremony for the 2017-18 academic year.
“Consequently, we determined it would be best to return to our century-long tradition of one spring commencement ceremony a year for all undergraduate students who complete their degree requirements and qualify for graduation during that academic year,” said Provost Gingerich.
Additionally, he said the decision to bring back the smaller convocation ceremonies for graduating students in this year’s class will provide more options for students.
“Students may join in either or both of the appropriate May celebrations for which they qualify, and I hope you will do that,” said Provost Gingerich.
The timing of this change is what strikes students the most as it comes two and a half months before what would have been the January commencement ceremony.
“It makes me feel like MSU doesn’t care about our accomplishments,” said communication studies major Liz Flack about the removal of January commencement.
“I think that they should have a ceremony in January like they originally planned to,” said 22-year-old senior Tatiana Cruz.
Despite students saying that the January commencement was canceled this year, Provost Gingerich responded by saying that there hadn’t been any prior commitment to schedule any graduation ceremonies prior to his announcement on Oct. 4.
“No January 2018 commencement was ever scheduled or announced,” Provost Gingerich said.
Students graduating after the fall semester still have the opportunity to participate in the May commencement. However, some students said the fact that they will have to wait four months after they completed college makes the ceremony useless.
Cruz, who is graduating after this semester, said that even though the ceremony is just to celebrate her accomplishments with her parents, it’s useless to have the only opportunity be in May four months after she will have completed college.
Flack said she might have a job after graduation which will make things more complicated if she were to attend May commencement. She said she would have to get the day off of work to attend one of the ceremonies celebrating her accomplishments.
“If this decision was made after the May ceremony and decided over the summer the reactions would have been very different,” said athletic training major Lisa Testino. “It is insensitive of the administration and higher-ups to not think about the students when making a decision [such as] this one.”
Testino said she knows Montclair State students graduating after this semester whose family members have already bought plane tickets and booked hotel rooms to attend the ceremony that has now been canceled.
Testino and her fellow graduating classmates in her major were outraged when they heard the news. She wanted to protest the news along with some other students and they are currently planning a rally to bring together those who oppose the canceling of the January commencement.
“After the petition went out last week and spread like [wildfire] we were sure that there was potential with this rally,” said Testino. “It’s just a matter of getting the people together.”